Evelyn´s Travel Insights

For Memorable Golf Experiences!


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Los Cabos – Mexico´s undisputed golf capital

diamante golf1

Set back from the shoreline’s beaches and sparkling waters are 14 exquisite layouts built by luminaries such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Greg Norman, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and Davies Love III. With two courses on GOLF Magazine’s “Top 100 in the World” list and four of the top five courses in Mexico as ranked by Golf Digest, Los Cabos is considered the golf capital of Mexico.

I had the pleasure to meet Esteban Toledo, a multiple winner on the PGA Champions Tour and the official golf ambassador for the Los Cabos Tourism Board, at my last visit to Los Cabos. Attending Toledo´s golf clinic was fantastic but actually playing a few holes with the Mexican celebrity and Champions TOUR star – Toledo won the Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach in 2015 – was an unforgettable experience.

Toledo knows Cabo’s fantastic array of courses better than anybody else. He has played them all and raves about the beauty, challenge and variety of these world-class courses, which is second to none.

In an interview with my good friend Brian McCallen, former Senior Editor of GOLF Magazin, Toledo was asked to pick his favorite holes in Los Cabos and came up with a scintillating front nine. Comprised of three par 3’s, three par 4’s and three 5’s, each hole showcasing Cabo’s unique mountain-desert-ocean ecosystem.

“Not only does each hole present a compelling challenge, but taken together, I can’t think of a more scenic collection of golf holes anywhere in the world,” Toledo said. Yardages are listed from the back (championship) markers, though each hole has multiple sets of forward tees that give handicap players an appropriate test—and a fighting chance.

#1: Cabo del Sol (Ocean Course – No. 17) – Par 3 – 178 yards
One of the most dazzling par 3’s in the world. From the back set of markers, tee shots are played over a sandy cove to a perched green set atop a granite shelf fronted by scalloped bunkers, with the ocean crashing into the rocks on the right. The green is sizable but exposed to onshore breezes.

#2: Quivira No. 13 – Par 3 – 148 yards
A truly spectacular par 3. The tiny green at this breathtaking short hole crowns a massive pinnacle of granite that rises 150 feet from the foaming surf. There is a bail-out area to the left of the putting surface, but this hole requires a solid short-iron shot over a gaping abyss to the smallest target on the course.

#3: Puerto Los Cabos (Marina – No. 15) – Par 3 – 216 yards
Set on a bluff directly above the Sea of Cortes, this solid par 3 on the Marina Course at Puerto Los Cabos is one of the toughest one-shotters in town from the back tees. The subtly contoured green, flanked by bunkers, is half-hidden among the windswept dunes and can be very elusive.

#4: Palmilla (Mountain – No. 5) – Par 4 – 401 yards
From a hilltop platform, the tee shot at this dramatic par 4 is a forced carry over a deep arroyo to a long, sinuous fairway that looks like a green island floating in the blue sky. The approach shot is played to a sunken green fronted by a dry river bed and defended by a pair of deep sand pits. It’s the No. 1 handicap hole, and deserves to be.

#5: Cabo del Sol (Desert – No. 18) – Par 4 – 427 yards
At this picturesque closing hole, with the Sea of Cortes on the horizon, a meandering creek tumbles along the left side of fairway before crossing in front of the putting surface and spilling into a lake that guards the right side of the green. Based on pin placement, the large, undulating green can be very tricky.

#6: Cabo Real – No. 14 – Par 4 – 454 yards
With a fairway that tiptoes along the rim of a steep canyon and a green set beside a precipice at the layout’s highest point (460 feet above sea level), this challenging par 4, like most of the holes on Cabo Real’s back nine, is chiseled into desert foothills below rugged mountain peaks. A very firm test.

#7: Club Campestre – No. 7 – Par 5 – 541 yards
Tumbling down rolling foothills in the Sierra del la Laguna Mountains, Campestre’s signature hole is the risk-reward par 5 seventh, a Z-shaped double-dogleg that plays to a well-bunkered peninsula green that juts into a pond. This hole can be played boldly or conservatively but never easily.

#8: Cabo San Lucas CC – No. 7 – Par 5 – 610 yards
This club’s parkland-style layout, the only golf course in Los Cabos with a view of the iconic sea arch at Land’s End, boasts the double-dogleg par-5 seventh, which swings around a lake and stretches to 610 yards from the back tees. It ranks among the longest and most challenging holes in all of Mexico.

#9: Diamante (Dunes – No. 17) – Par 5 – 588 yards
This sturdy par 5 is a true three-shot hole that heads inland from the sea and usually plays downwind. Players must hit their tee shots over a broad arroyo to find a preferred landing area. An accurate lay-up is followed by a lofted approach shot to a shelf-like green perched 50 feet above the fairway.

If you have not had the chance to experience any of Cabo´s magnificent courses yet, put this awesome destination on your bucket list. You will surely be impressed by the quality and diversity of these golf experiences on offer at the tip of the southern Baja California Peninsula.

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Sweet treats in Austria – hard to resist!

Apfelstrudel

The world of Austrian desserts hardly needs any introduction. It has a long history and tradition of making some of the finest desserts in the world. No matter whether you cherish these sweet delicacies in a cozy Austrian coffee house or at your home, you will fall in love with these pastries and Torten (locally known as Mehlspeise).

These are my favorite treats (Part 1):

Number 1:  Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel with Vanille sauce and ice cream – it doesn´t get any better!

Austrians love Strudel – either filled with a sweet or savory filling. The Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) is said to have become the Austrian classic after the victory of Vienna by the Turks. The traditional strudel is a pulled one, but today it is usually made from the same puff pastry that is used in Turkish baklava.

Apfelstrudel is best eaten warm, with vanilla sauce or lashings of whipped cream and a frothy Melange coffee. For the real treat, add a scoop of ice cream!

My mom used to make apple strudel from the original strudel dough, skillfully pulling and extending the dough until it was so thin that you could read the paper through it. It covered the entire kitchen table, with the thicker edges hanging over the table’s edges, before being cut.

Tip: As an alternative to the classic Apfelstrudel, ask for a warm Topfenstrudel, when in Austria next time. “Topfen” is similar to cream cheese but can´t be found anywhere in the US. It´s delicious and you may even prefer it to Apfelstrudel – I do.

Number 2: Kaiserschmarrn (translates as “emperor´s mess)

Kaisserschmarn

Kaiserschmarrn tastes best with craneberry sauce

There are many stories about the origin of this classic sweet, which is often eaten as a main dish. But one says that this dessert was first served to Emperor Franz Joseph I around the turn of the century. The basic ingredients and dough are quite similar to those of pancake but it is enriched with additional eggs and raisins. Be careful not to overcook it, otherwise it will dry out. It is either served as a dessert or main dish.

 

Tip: Add some rum and flambé it. Then sprinkle powdered sugar and serve with home-made apple puree or cranberry sauce. Pair it with a hot cup of coffee for the ultimate in sweet, cozy comfort food.

Number 3:  Sachertorte

Sacher Torte

Sacher Torte – the most famous cake in the world!

Like many historic stories the Sacher-Torte was conceived through serendipity when Prince Metternich was hosting a dinner party in 1832. The chef was ill and apprentice Franz Sacher had to bake a dessert. The guests loved the cake so much that the Sachertorte was born. Since then the Sachertorte – a dense but delectable chocolate cake made with a thin layer of apricot jam and a rich chocolate glaze – has been arguably the most famous cake in the world. The original recipe remains a well-kept secret though.

When in Austria, you can´t leave without having tasted a piece of this famous “Torte,” It is mostly served and enjoyed with a generous dollop of unsweetened whipped cream (to balance sweetness!!). A single conservative slice will set you back 450 calories but trust me; every bite is worth it!

The original version can only be ordered at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna and Salzburg as well as at the Café Sacher Innsbruck and Café Sacher Graz.

Tip: Order it online in a gift box and wow a dear friend!

Number 4:  Salzburger Nockerln – an icon of Austrian cuisine

Salzburger Nockerl

Salzburger Nockerln – sweet as love

This fluffy iconic dessert may remind you of snow-capped mountains right away.

Created in the 17th century by Salome Alt, the mistress of the archbishop of Salzburg, this Baked Vanilla Soufflé is formed into three mounds (nockerln) to look like the three hills that surround the city of Salzburg (Mönchsberg, Kapuzinerberg and Gaisberg.

This fluffy dessert has become such an icon of Austrian cuisine that Fred Raymond even composed an operetta in 1938 called Saison in Salzburg – Salzburger Nockerln (Season in Salzburg – Salzburger Nockerln). In this composition the sweet dumplings are praised as “Süß wie die Liebe und zart wie ein Kuss” (Sweet as love and tender as a kiss). Salzburger Nockerl can mainly be found in Salzburg, as its name implies.

Tip: It requires some practice to make this culinary specialty at home but give it a try – it doesn´t take long and you will make a home-run with it.

Number 5:  Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte – arguably the oldest cake in the world!

The Linzer Torte is considered to be the oldest cake in the world – dating back to the 16th century. Its base is a short crust pastry made with ground nuts, filled with red currant or plum jam and with a decorative dough lattice pattern on top. The name of the person who first recorded the recipe is unknown but the ingredients can be traced back to a 350-year-old cook book and are still used today when making the Original Linzer Torte.

Tip: You may also want to try a similar cookie version, called “Linzer Radl” or “Linzer Auge”. These delicacies were traditionally served at Christmas only, but can be found in most Austrian bakeries nowadays.

Filled with history, folklore, and sugar, you can’t go wrong when you taste a piece of these heavenly pleasures in one of the cozy traditional coffee houses in Austria. It may not be good for your waistline but that´s a different story!

Stay tuned for more in Part 2 of “Sweet treats in Austria”

 


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Sage Valley – rivaling Augusta National GC?

sage valley

You want to play Augusta National but have been denied? Then you´d better take action. That is exactly what business man Weldon Wyatt did when his Augusta National membership application was rejected – at least that´s what rumor says.

Weldon Wyatt, who has made a fortune as the nation’s leading developer of Walmart stores, set out to create his own personal playground just a few miles away. “Bigger, better and more beautiful than the iconic Augusta National” that was his dream. The business tycoon asked Augusta National stalwart Jack Stephens, whom he would recommend to design his course. Tom Fazio, one of the luminaries of golf course architecture, was on the top of the list. Fazio likes to leave everything as natural as he can and has the ability to move things around, making everything look natural. In addition, no living designer has more credits on Golf Digest‘s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses and Golfweek’s collection of America’s Best than Fazio.

If playing beautifully designed Sage Valley is unforgettable, so, too, was Wyatt’s first shot off the tee. The course that looks and feels much like Augusta National was opened on September 11, 2011 – despite of the national emergency caused by the terror attacks.

Sage Valley´s attention to professionalism, detail and service is second to none and you can feel Wyatt´s passion to strive for the ultimate experience in golf everywhere on-property. Even the maintenance people stop and wave. Perfectly manicured fairways, a drainage system under the undulated greens and thousands of colorful azaleas and dogwood trees add to the experience. The Caddies in white jumpsuits are perfectly trained and certainly enhance the golfing pleasure. Club employees caucus twice a week to discuss ways to improve your time even more.

“The thing that makes Sage different, I believe, is the way Sage treats people when they’re here. And we hear that consistently. It’s making them feel at home. The caddies here are different. The caddy program here, I’d put up against any place in the world.” Wyatt was quoted in the Augusta Magazine.

“From the moment you pull through the gates, until you leave, you feel like you have died and gone to golf course heaven, not to mention that the food is free at the half-way house, playing golf really doesn’t get any better than Sage Valley” raves Aaron Carson, a discriminating golfer who had the chance to play this ultra-exclusive course.

It is kind of unique to have two high-caliber golf courses just within 15 minutes of each other and people in Augusta have certainly drawn comparisons between Augusta National and Sage Valley. But even though the latter one provides an ultra-exclusive golfing experience and has hosted the planet’s most recognized celebrities, athletes and world leaders, it can and never will rival its famous neighboring course built by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie 83 years ago. You simply cannot replace historic value and mystique.

If you, however, should ever get the opportunity to tee-it up at Sage Valley, don´t miss it!